Nova Scotia's Cyber-safety Act, which was jammed through the legislature with little debate, has been partially proclaimed into force today. In particular, the portions dealing with the new statutory tort of cyberbullying and anti-cyberbullying orders are now the law. It is expected that the new CyberSCAN units will be mobilised and deployed in the fall.
For more background, check out previous blog postings on the topic: Cyber-safety Act (Nova Scotia).
From the provincial government:
Province Offers More Protection for Cyberbullying Victims | novascotia.ca
Province Offers More Protection for Cyberbullying Victims
August 7, 2013 10:20 AM
Victims of cyberbullying now have more places to turn as Nova Scotia leads the country with new cyber-safety laws.
Justice Minister Ross Landry announced today, Aug. 7, people can seek a protection order from the court or sue if they, or their child, is being cyberbullied. The protections are part of the new Cyber-safety Act to protect victims and hold cyberbullies accountable for their actions.
"Too many young people and their families are being hurt by cyberbullies," said Mr. Landry. "I committed to families that the province would work with them to better protect our children and young people. Court orders, and the ability to sue, are more tools that help put a stop to this destructive behaviour.
"This sends a clear message, cyberbullying is a serious act with serious consequences. Think before you text."
The parts of the Cyber-safety Act effective today allow victims to apply through the Justice of the Peace centre for a protection order that could place restrictions on, or help identify, the cyberbully. Victims can also sue the cyberbully, whose parents can be held liable for damages if the cyberbully is a minor.
"We've all been affected by cyberbullying, whether it has happened to us or someone we know or we've just seen it online," said Chantel O'Brien, a member of the province's Youth Advisory Council. "These amendments will be a wake-up call to those who think they can hide behind a computer to avoid being held accountable. It's reassuring to see the government taking action to ensure youth can feel safe in their own homes."
New changes to the Education Act clarify the role of principals in acting when this issue affects schools. They now have a clear responsibility to respond, even to incidents of bullying and cyberbullying that occur beyond the school ground or after school hours.
The CyberSCAN unit, the first in Canada, is the final piece of the Cyber-safety Act. The unit will be running in September. Roger Merrick, the unit's director, is hiring five investigators who will investigate all complaints of cyberbullying, whether the victim is a minor or an adult.
In addition to the new civil laws, Premier Dexter led discussions on actions to address cyberbullying at Council of the Federation meetings in July. Premiers acknowledged his national leadership and endorsed initiatives he brought to the table such as strengthening the criminal code to make distributing intimate images without consent a crime.
The province has also committed to an independent review by out-of-province experts into the Public Prosecutions Service and police actions in the Rehtaeh Parsons case. The review will begin after the criminal investigation is complete.
For more information about the Cyber-safety Act, go to http://novascotia.ca/just/.